SEASIDE, Calif. -- Home runs, small ball, double plays, crazy weather and classic pitchers' duel between two nationally–ranked ranked teams: the NCAA Division II West Regional I final had it all.
Thanks to strong offshore winds, the dust never did settle Saturday at the Otter Sports Complex, but when the games ended, host and top-seeded Cal State Monterey Bay survived a scare from Cal Baptist to earn a championship day split and a berth in its first–ever NCAA Super Regional.
Cal Baptist forced the "if" game by rallying with a 9–run sixth inning to take the opener 13–5. But the Otters regrouped behind sophomore pitcher Lindsey Clarkson to punch their Super Regional ticket as Clarkson posted her 25th victory of the season with a 2–1 complete game.
CSUMB will continue the best season in school history, improving to 48–10 with the split. Cal Baptist ends its first season of NCAA postseason eligibility at 46–13.
Game 1 • Cal Baptist 13, CSUMB 5 (6 innings)
CSUMB roughed up Cal Baptist ace Belinda Renne early in Saturday's opener in much the same way as it did in its 13–1 winners bracket victory Friday afternoon. But this time, after the hosts opened the scoring with back-to-back, first inning home runs from Cori Reinhardt and Bianca Noriega, Cal Baptist fought back to tie it in the third.
Ashley Devers hit a solo home run to lead off the third before the Lancers leveled the scoreline with an infield single and an RBI ground out. But the Otters quickly regained the lead in their half of the third courtesy of an RBI double by Anneliese Lopez and a run–scoring single from Alissa Greenhaw.
The Lancers pulled one run back in the fifth on London Miller's RBI double but the Otters headed to the sixth with a 5–4 lead, six outs away from the tournament title.
A leadoff walk, a fielder's choice out, an infield single and a bunt single set the stage for some amazing 2–strike at bats from the Lancers. Krista Mann, Savannah Miller and London Miller all doubled on 2–2 counts to open the floodgates. By the time Rebecca Orozco closed the scoring with a 3–run homer, Cal Baptist had secured the win.
Game 2 • CSUMB 2, Cal Baptist 1
Cal Baptist seemed poised to continue its roll when London Miller led off the second inning with her fifth homer of the regional to stake the Lancers to a 1–0 lead. A pair of 1–out singles followed to put Clarkson on the ropes, but she recovered to strike out Rachel Meyer and coax a ground out from Jordan Mowatt to end the threat.
The Otters rallied to tie it in the third when Cori Reinhardt's single to right center drove in Greenhaw from second. Freshman Courtney Varela followed with the biggest hit of her young collegiate career in the fourth, bouncing a 2–out single through the right side to put the Otters on top 2–1.
Clarkson took over from there, retiring the final nine Lancers in order to secure the win.